Measuring Rohit Sharma’s meteoric rise in Test cricket

Kuldeep Chavan
|Published September 09, 2021

Rohit Sharma’s meteoric rise: The senior Indian batsman’s second version in Test cricket is reaping fruits for the Indian team.

The name Rohit Sharma is a synonym for elegant batting among cricket pundits and fans. Sharma’s graceful batting has been a standout characteristic of India’s white-ball batting since him becoming an opening batsman. However, the same couldn’t have been said about his Test batting before he started opening the batting in red-ball cricket.

Even if Sharma registered an impressive Test debut against West Indies by scoring a mammoth 177 (301) in 2013, his career remained volatile till as recent as 2019. Sharma, who was remarkable with the bat in Tests at home, couldn’t replicate the same success in overseas Tests.

As we can notice from the above chart, there is a huge gulf between Sharma’s home and away Test record till the end of 2018. A massive difference of 59.12 in home and away averages signifies his mediocre performance away from home before he cemented his place as a Test opener. It was due to the same reason that Sharma had received limited opportunities in red-ball cricket.

However, it was after his spectacular show (648 runs at an average of 81 and a strike rate of 98.33 including five centuries and a half-century) in ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 that selectors thought about his Test prospects and that too as an opening batsman. The opportunity for Sharma to finally open in Test cricket came during the home series against South Africa in 2019.

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In what was a perfect start to a new phase of his international career more than a decade after he first played for India, Sharma kick-started his campaign with three centuries (including a double century) against the Proteas. Sharma also provided some good starts to the team during the Australia tour earlier this year after missing the first two Tests due to an injury.

Measuring Rohit Sharma’s meteoric rise in Test cricket

Sharma, who struck a match-winning 161 (231) against England in Chennai, continued to be short on an overseas Test century. With the ongoing Pataudi Trophy being his first full overseas Test Series as an opening batsman, Sharma has proved his worth by top-scoring (368 runs at an average of 52.57) for his team in the first four Tests which also includes an overseas Test century.

Contrary to his natural free-flowing limited-overs version, Sharma’s batting in this series has been full of patience and discipline showing tremendous improvement in leaving the balls outside off-stump. Having averaged 108.25 balls per innings in this series, Sharma (866) is only second to England captain Joe Root (929).

After completing a century on Day 3, Sharma explained his successful methods while addressing the reporters in a virtual press conference. The 34-year old player talked about the importance of disciplined batting and sticking in the middle for a long time to succeed in English conditions.

“It is not just you come here and get a hundred. It has never been like that. It is a process and it takes time. There will be a process I will need to follow, keep ticking the small boxes and that’s something I did when I started opening batting. I knew the results will come, rewards will happen, but it might take time. It’s just that you need to be patient. I was very patient,” Sharma had told the reporters.

Sharma, who completed 3,000 Test runs at The Oval, has sought of turned the tables regarding his Test career as is being confirmed by the aforementioned numbers. Hoping for this to only be the start of Sharma’s phenomenal Test career, let’s take a seat with popcorn and enjoy the pinnacle of red-ball batting by Rohit Sharma 2.0.

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Kuldeep Chavan

Kuldeep Chavan

Sports Statistician

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